When it comes to race planning these days, a social media strategy is a must. We’ve covered some basic aspects of how race directors can better manage their social media in the past. (Our original Race Directors Guide to Social Media can be downloaded here). With a new year comes a new (advanced) guide, chock full of more advanced tactics on paid advertising, ambassador programs, and the importance of Instagram and Periscope. Once you’ve got the basics down with your social media presence, here are some more advanced tactics to consider during your race planning to help grow your participant numbers. Like the ideas below? Download the full Race Director’s Advanced Guide to Social Media for more ways to take advantage of social media that your competition probably isn’t using yet.

Build an Ambassador Program

A great way to organically increase your social reach is to empower your event advocates. You already have a core group of athletes who love your event and sign up every year. Ambassador programs allow you to leverage these advocates by empowering them with high level insight into your race and encouraging them to share their passion through social media. To keep your ambassadors active on social media you can seed them with weekly missions/challenges. Challenges can be anything that help generate buzz around your event and help increase registrations. For example, if you have a running event, you can ask your advocates to upload their favorite running photos using your event hashtag to get the word out. Or, you can ask the advocates to help spread the word about a registration fee increase. People are more likely to sign up for your race when they’re invited and encouraged by a friend. Pro Tip: provide your advocates with a unique coupon code to distribute to their friends and family. Keep track of registrations and display a leaderboard to generate some friendly competition.

Consider Contests & Sweepstakes

Organic Engagement Social Media Race Planning
In addition to Ambassador programs, consider contests and sweepstakes during your race planning. They are a great way to drive organic activity and engagement across social media channels. And, it doesn’t have to cost you anything beyond a little legwork. As a Race Director, you have access to sponsors and stores that can offer valuable prizes. You can work with these partners to determine budget, timing and promotional efforts behind the contest and/or sweeps. This is a great opportunity for you to provide additional exposure to your partners. Every time you promote the contest, you’ll be highlighting your sponsor. Plus, social media tracking tools can really help you share engagement numbers with your partner. It’s a win-win-win. Even if your sponsor isn’t in the same industry, make sure your prize is pertinent to your target demographic. Offer up a new pair of running shoes for training, a GPS watch, or maybe a free hotel night at a hotel near your start line. Think about these types of prizes during your race planning. They are sure to generate some excitement and buzz across your social channels.

The Differences between Contests & Sweeps

Contests and sweepstakes can be structured in many different ways. It’s extremely important to understand the laws and the differences between the two. If you’re not familiar with contest or sweepstakes law, you can view this easily-digestible breakdown from Business. com. The duration, value and overall goal of your promotion should help you decipher which type to host.

Sweepstakes are primarily used to generate awareness or to grow your fan base. They are simple to implement and should be really easy to enter. A typical online sweepstakes will ask a fan to enter some personal information (name, address, email) for a chance to win a prize.

Contests are used to engage fans. A simple contest asks participants to create a piece of content for a chance to win a prize. For example, you could ask your fans to upload a photo on Instagram using a specific hashtag. At the end of the contest period, the photos are judged against a set of criteria that is outlined in your Official Rules. This ensures the judging process will be fair for all entries. The photos they upload can be invaluable to your brand. Not only can you gain insights on your race loyalists, but the photos can be used later in other marketing efforts (assuming all proper releases are collected.)

Feel like you’re ready to move forward with more advanced social media tactics? Download the full guide below and use it during your race planning.


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